LSU dropped to 9-5 on the season after a disappointing loss to South Carolina on Wednesday night. After a slow start saw the Tigers trail the Gamecocks 27-19 in the first half, the team fought to close the gap. Points came from unexpected sources, including Andrew Del Piero and Malik Morgan, and at halftime, LSU trailed by only two points.
The Tigers were hot from the three point line at the start of the second half and took the lead after consecutive long distance shots from Anthony Hickey. However, turnover woes continued to haunt the Tigers in the second half, even as the team shot well from the floor.
Frank Martin's Kansas State teams were known for their tenacious defense, and his new team applied the same kind of ball pressure the entire game, resulting in 21 Tiger turnovers (20 in regulation), including five from Hickey.
The final 10 minutes were very competitive, with multiple lead changes. Still, LSU had two opportunities to put away the game in the final minute, when the teams were tied at 69. First, LSU executed a solid ball reversal, resulting in an open look for Hickey, whose three pointer went in and out of the basket. Then, after Hickey stole the ball on the ensuing possession, Johnny O'Bryant had an open look with three seconds to go. Unfortunately, he also missed and the teams headed to overtime.
In overtime, Martin ran a 3-2 zone, which LSU had not seen in prior games. Although the Gamecocks applied less pressure, the Tigers could not figure out how to break down the zone. Most of their shots were contested three pointers (the Tigers missed all six attempts in OT), and other than a transition lay-up from Hickey, the Tigers didn't score until O'Bryant's lay-up in garbage time, with the team down nine.
While LSU struggled, South Carolina played some of their best ball in overtime. Freshman Michael Carrera came on strong down the stretch for the Gamecocks, finishing with 23 points and 10 rebounds, and he calmly sank all six of his overtime free throws.
South Carolina recorded their first SEC win of the season and improved to 11-5 for the year. They play at home against Vanderbilt on Saturday.
Meanwhile, the Tigers have to be disappointed with their 0-3 record, considering the struggles of South Carolina and Auburn this year. In particular, highly regarded big man Johnny O'Bryant has struggled in SEC play, shooting only 32 percent from the field in the first three games. He also has a dismal 1:9 assist/turnover ratio.
LSU will face off against Georgia in Athens on Saturday at 7:00 central time.